SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 26

Yu Jin-Ho’s expression became dumbfounded.

“Already, Hyung-nim?!”

“I don’t need to hear the rest to figure it out.”

Jin-Woo was quite decisive in saying no.

This wasn’t because he didn’t like Yu Jin-Ho or something like that.

Although he seemed a bit off in the head, his attitude remained courteous and he came across as someone who’d always keep his word. He was quite different from other scions of ‘chaebols’ often seen in mass media. (TL: ‘chaebols’: Wealthy owners/families of corporations)

However, Jin-Woo was not interested in becoming a playmate of the son of a wealthy family during the boy’s ‘Hunter’ phase.

“If there’s nothing else, I’m leaving.”

“Hyu, hyung-nim!!”

Just as Jin-Woo got up to leave, Yu Jin-Ho hurriedly reached out and held onto him.

“Hyung-nim, only for 20! No, wait, please partner up with me for the next 19 times!!”

“For what? To clear dungeons?”

“Yes!! I’ll definitely compensate you properly!!”

Yu Jin-Ho’s voice sounded rather desperate.

Jin-Woo tilted his head slightly.

There were two reasons why people became Hunters. Either it was for money, or for their sense of duty.

But, Yu Jin-Ho didn’t belong to either camp. Maybe, it was possible that he thought of being a Hunter was a slightly more dangerous form of extreme sports or some such.

That was what Jin-Woo had been believing until now.

True, he was taken aback slightly when the kid declared that he wanted to form his own private raid team, even after going through that ordeal the last time.

‘There are all sorts of people in this world, that’s for sure.’

It wouldn’t be too strange to find a scion of a wealthy family who had become numb to the safe environment he had grown up in. However, Yu Jin-Ho’s expression seemed far too serious and determined at the moment for that kind of an explanation.

‘Could there be a different reason?’

Rather than the promise of ‘proper compensation’, Jin-Woo’s curiosity was being tugged by the idea of raiding dungeons ’19’ more times.

Jin-Woo’s brain quickly kicked into gear.

‘Hang on…. Let’s say that last time was his first raid. And when he completes 19 more raids, then….’

Could this kid be aiming for…..?

It didn’t take long for Jin-Woo to realise the truth. His expression became dumbfounded, instead.

“You, are you perhaps thinking of getting the Guild Master licence?”

“That’s correct, hyung-nim!!”

What a smart decision it was not to order coffee.

Otherwise, he might have sprayed the bitter liquid all over the table by now while trying to drink it.

1

“You wanna become a Guild Master?!”

“Well, uh, the story’s a bit complicated there, hyung-nim.”

Yu Jin-Ho’s face reddened considerably compared to before as he spoke.

“Hyung-nim. Please listen to my story.”

10

“….”

Jin-Woo was in a slight dilemma, wondering what he should do now, but in the end, he was defeated by his curiosity, so he sat back down.

“Fine, I’ll listen.”

Well, the promised hour had not ended yet, so there was that, too. It wouldn’t be a problem to listen to the kid’s story anyways.

Yu Jin-Ho hurriedly parked his butt back down as well.

“As you’ve correctly guessed, I want to acquire the Guild Master licence.”

Acquiring that licence was not that difficult, actually. You had to be a Hunter who participated in at least 20 raids. As long as you met this base requirement, all you had to do was to pass a written test and you’d get the licence.

Of course, nobody would join the Guild created by a rubbish Hunter, and if a Guild failed to maintain the minimum number of members, it’d be disbanded as well.

Yu Jin-Ho continued on.

“It’s not public knowledge yet, but actually, my father is trying to establish a Guild of his own.”

“A Guild created by Yujin Construction?”

“Yes.”

Yujin Construction was one of the biggest corporations in South Korea.

It had expanded its business well beyond the fields of construction and into other sectors and had been making a killing there. Jin-Woo had heard that recently, they reaped huge profit after jumping into the Hunter-related businesses as well.

‘And they want to form a Guild of their own?’

When Jin-Woo displayed a hint of interest, Yu Jin-Ho became excited and added more explanations.

“He’d scout strong Hunters and build a massive Guild, and place all our Hunter-related business interests under it. That’s his plan.”

If a corporation wished to partake in Hunter-related businesses, then it was a necessity to work together with a Guild. Well, you’d need the strength of a large Guild if you ever wanted to get your hands on magic crystals and remains of the monsters, or treasures such as mana stones found in Gates ranked A or B.

“And so, you wish to become a self-sustaining entity. Is that it?”

“That is absolutely correct, hyung-nim!”

With the financial wherewithal of Yujin Construction, creating a Guild wouldn’t even pose a problem. No, the real issue would be with just who gets to run it.

“My father is thinking of hiring an S-ranked Hunter as the Guild Master and placing my older brother as the Vice-Master, and run the Guild that way, but….”

Jin-Woo immediately caught onto what Yu Jin-Woo was implying here. If things were done that way, then a source of worry would be created along the way.

3

The power of authority the Guild Master wielded was simply far too great. Even if it was the Vice-Master who had hired the Master, in case of a conflict arising between the two, there was a very good chance that the latter would end up completely overtaking the entire Guild.

In order to prevent that, there was only one way. All you had to do was to hire a Master who’d never ever betray the one who hired him or her.

For instance, brothers – or, even a son.

2

And the chairman of Yujin Construction, Yu Myung-Hwan, had a son called Yu Jin-Ho.

“However, my older brother’s business experience is far too good for me to simply take over the position of the Guild Master. It was his idea to enter the field of Hunter-related business, you see. We gained huge profit in that sector because of him.”

His older brother had become a successful entrepreneur by the age of 31. Compared to him, Yu Jin-Ho was only a 22-year old university student, even if he possessed a unique plus point of being a rank D Hunter.

Naturally, the chairman was thinking of entrusting the Guild over to the eldest son.

The eldest couldn’t become a Master since he was not a Hunter, but he still knew a lot about the Hunter-related businesses, and also managed to achieve great success in the sector, too.

Meaning, even if there was an element of a risk, the chairman would still take the chance.

“And you wish to change your father’s mind by acquiring the Master licence, yeah?”

“That’s right, hyung-nim.”

And so, Jin-Woo figured out why Yu Jin-Ho was here, trying desperately to reel him in.

Even if the kid hired a high-ranked Hunter and acquired the licence that way, it’d be no different from buying it with cash. However, what if the kid succeeded in 20 raids with low-ranked Hunters, such as Jin-Woo, and acquired the licence that way?

Yu Jin-Ho would be able to persuade his father.

Simply him being able to lead a group of Hunters would be enough to get his approval. That was what Yu Jin-Ho was counting on.

If Yu Jin-Ho became the Guild Master, they would get an S rank as the Vice-Master and scout all the talented Hunters.

Well, others would only feel secure and join them if one or both Master and Vice-Master spots were filled by someone with powerful abilities.

If this plan were to come to fruition, then completing those 20 raids was an absolute must.

“Hyung-nim, please help me! I have no one but you, hyung-nim!”

Yu Jin-Ho bowed his head.

If it weren’t for Jin-Woo, the kid would’ve died during his very first raid. By the giant spider, or at the hands of Hwang Dong-Seok. Two times.

Yu Jin-Ho needed a trustworthy ally here.

‘I can definitely trust hyung-nim.’

He might be a cold-hearted person who would not bat an eyelid when killing his enemies, but he also happened to be a righteous man who’d not treat lightly the lives of those weaker than him, and just as important, he didn’t care about getting his hands on ill-gotten gains, as well.

Jin-Woo was the perfect candidate.

However, Jin-Woo didn’t need Yu Jin-Ho. That was why he asked the kid.

“What would I get in return, then?”

Yu Jin-Ho raised his head, his expression one of joy, as he quickly produced an envelope he had prepared earlier on. And a blueprint of a building came out from there. Jin-Woo took a look at it.

“This is the Guild office building we’re constructing at the moment. The expected retail price of the building is around ₩30 billion, but it’ll definitely rise up in the future.”

Although the Association was doing their best to manage them, there would always be that fear of monsters escaping from the dungeons. That was why the land price near the Association headquarters or around large Guilds always rose up higher as time went by.

Well, there would be no more precious wealth than one’s own life, after all.

Even if it was a small Guild, being near one almost guaranteed your safety. However, if it was a building occupied by a large Guild?

There was no need to mention it.

“If I become the Master, then for exactly one year, I’ll use it until the Guild has been stabilised. And then, hand over the deeds to you, hyung-nim. Of course, I’ll make sure all the paperwork are in order so there wouldn’t be any unnecessary complications later down the line.”

A 30 billion building, for raiding rank C Gates 19 more times….

Jin-Woo smirked slightly.

“As long as you become the Master, it’ll all be worth it, is that right?”

“That’s correct, hyung-nim.”

On that fateful day, Yu Jin-Ho got to learn the valuable lesson of “Anything goes inside a dungeon.”

Hiring any ol’ Hunters could lead to him getting killed.

On the flip side, hiring famous Hunters would mean Yu Jin-Ho would lose the ability to persuade his father.

However, Jin-Woo was different.

He was nominally a rank E Hunter, yet he was strong enough to solo a C-ranked boss, as well as eight C-ranked Hunters without getting hurt.

7

‘Hyung-nim could be at least a B-ranked…. Or, someone far stronger than that.’

With Jin-Woo was around, raiding 19 C-rank Gates would not pose any problems at all.

So, yes – if he could become the Guild Master, 30 billion sounded rather cheap in comparison.

The only thing remaining was Jin-Woo agreeing to do so.

‘He wouldn’t say no with this sort of terms on offer, right?’

Yu Jin-Ho nervously studied Jin-Woo’s reactions.

‘What should I do?’

In the meantime, Jin-Woo was in a serious dilemma.

30 billion Won.

2

That was a huge amount of money.

If one considered the fact that the winning prize of the local lottery was 1.5 billion Won, he’d have to get lucky 20 times in a row to earn that amount.

Not only that, the value of the building would only continue to rise up.

If it were any other normal Hunter, they would jump in with both feet and sign up right away – that’s how tempting this offer was.

However, Jin-Woo was as far removed from being normal as anyone could ever hope to get.

The one and only under the heavens; he was the only Hunter who could grow stronger.

If he continued on with quests and levelled up over and over again, he’d reach the S rank sooner or later, or even something surpassing that.

2

‘If I can surpass the S rank, then 30 billion would be nothing.’

The contract fee for S rank Hunters went for several dozen billions already.

No matter how famous a celebrity or a sports star was, they would never even come close to the worth of an S-ranked Hunter.

This was the era where the number of high-ranked Hunters signified the strength of a nation. As a result, the treatment S ranks received exceeded one’s imaginations.

Considering that, what Jin-Woo needed to prioritise here was not money, but his growth.

And in order to grow, it’d be more convenient to be alone.

‘Yeah, it’d be better to minimise the risks of unexpected events.’

If he hunted along with other people, the experience points received could decrease too, and because of all those eyes watching him, making a move would become rather cumbersome as well.

Not to forget, in order to avoid anything troublesome happening down the line, he had to threaten Yu Jin-Ho back then, something he didn’t want to do in the first place.

And finally, he’d have to match his schedule to that of the assault team from now on. The efficiency of his growth would only decrease, one way or the other.

‘I can always make money later on.’

Although it was unfortunate, he had to decline this offer. Just as he thought like this….

‘Hang on a sec.’

Suddenly, he came up with a pretty good way to catch two birds called money and growth with a single stone.

‘If it’s in this manner….’

When he finally raised his head, he spotted Yu Jin-Ho and his nervous face. Jin-Woo slowly opened his mouth.

“I only have one condition.”

1

Yu Jin-Ho’s expression brightened up instantly.

“Whatever it is, please tell me, hyung-nim!!

‘I wonder, would you be able to smile even after I told you what it is?’

Jin-Woo smiled inwardly and spoke up.

“You and I. Only two of us will enter the dungeons.”

“Pardon?!”

Yu Jin-Ho gasped out in pure shock.

“Hyu-hyung-nim…. If I didn’t make a mistake here, then…. Are you saying that hyung-nim and I, just us two, will clear C-ranked Gates? Only us two?”

“You didn’t make a mistake, then.”

Yu Jin-Ho’s face was drained of all colour, just then.

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